Okinawa is really many different islands but because the ferries between them are long and expensive, we did our week entirely on the main island. The southern half of the main island (~60 miles long, oriented North-South, only a few miles wide) is mostly fairly developed, but the northern half is sparsely populated. We looked up the local attractions and found that we were mostly interested in natural beauty - skipping the pineapple theme parks. Yes, there are at least two. To save money we pulled out our camping supplies and picked a campsite in the middle of nowhere, based mostly on how nice I thought the scenery outside the tent would be.
In that, we were not disappointed. To see all the pictures, check Flickr.
We flew direct from our local airport, which was convenient, then took buses to Yagaji Beach, on the Motobu peninsula, which is not particularly close to anything. All the tourist literature for Okinawa and the people we talked to recommended renting a car for getting around on Okinawa but we've never paid the thousands of dollars required for Japanese licenses and our US ones are no good here, so we can report from firsthand experience that you should rent a car if you go, or at least rent bikes. The buses do work, but are almost more expensive than taxis. It took us several hours to get to the campsite, but we made it before 5PM, when the owner had threatened to close up shop even though she lives on the premises and the ~$100 we paid for our six days was the biggest piece of business she got that week. We had the place almost entirely to ourselves, and between that and the views the cantankerous owner was more of an amusement than a problem.
The ocean is also directly behind this picture.
The first night was a little sketchy, because we were relatively far from major outposts of civilization and in the off-season for tourism. There were three small (very small) towns within walking distance of the campsite but restaurants were few in number and short in hours. We did some walking around and settled for dinner supplies from a local corner store. The wind seemed to be picking up so we staked the tent down fully and were glad we did because it howled and tore all night long, changing directions and introducing new and alarming sounds from the tent on on a regular basis. I had mental images of chasing the rain fly across the beach naked in the dark.
In the morning, we checked the tent and pegs and found them unaffected. Our tent is apparently rated for alarming levels of wind. The island seemed to think we'd passed the test and the weather didn't come after us so strongly again. When it was nice out, we went walking near the campsite and got some pictures.
The area near the campsite had a bit of a post-apocalyptic vibe since a lot of stuff was closed or vacant for the off-season and there weren't so many people around.
We found that Okinawa has a whole bunch of mausoleums - they're everywhere.
Found some pretty spectacular views - this can be seen a few minutes' walk from the campsite.
The different colors of the water were kind of amazing.
Ana put her toes in, but the water is more of a wetsuit affair than not in December.
We got lunch at a very small local restaurant that basically only sold ramen and beer. We ordered the crab ramen and found that the crab came in an omelet, so we had crab omelet over noodles in broth, which was actually darn good, if strange.
Home base for the Okinawa trip
We stayed on Okinawa, based out of our tent, for about six days and had various other adventures that we'll detail in upcoming blog posts Stay tuned!